• Smoke and Spice

    Smoke and Spice

    I think every photographer secretly hopes to have a book of their work at some point in their career. Thanks to well known New Mexican cookbook authors Cheryl and Bill Jamison, I had my first opportunity last year, creating all of the recipe, atmospheric and cover images for the 20th Anniversary edition of their James Beard award winning book, "Smoke and Spice." The Jamisons are noble royalty in the world of the smokin' arts, and it was an honor and a pleasure (and a delicious undertaking) to produce the images for the book. Added bonus - my dear friend and maestro chef/stylist Stacy Pearl was my comrade in arms.

    On a personal note, I had discovered this book nearly 5 years before, after meeting Cheryl for a shoot for Local Flavor magazine. We had just bought a smoker, and weren't having much luck. When I mentioned this, and Cheryl said she had a book on the subject, I went straight to the Santa Fe Cooking School to pick up a copy. We have smoked away countless weekends with this book over the years, and cherish our old dog earred, mop-stained copy.

    You can find the book here on Amazon (or better yet, buy it at your local bookstore!): Smoke and Spice.

    See more images from the book here on my site.

  • Chef Charles Dale, Small Business Owner of Bouche Restaurant

    Chef Charles Dale, Small Business Owner of Bouche Restaurant

    It's spring, and I've been hard at work completing the Gastronomica story for the 15th Anniversary issue for Trend Magazine, to be published this summer.

    As I pause from editing photographs, I'm tempted to look back at the images I created for last issue's Gastronomica, featuring Chef Charles Dale and his new restaurant, Bouche. 

    Following is an excerpt from the story I wrote to accompany the images: 

    It’s early evening at 451 West Alameda, and Charles Dale surveys the room. The space is intimate for a restaurant, seating 36 in a building more than 70 years old. It was once a grocery store, once the restaurant Aqua Santa, and is now the stage on which Bouche Bistro entertains. Dale is at the helm of the open kitchen, framed by the reflective steel of ovens and range and the brilliant copper service table before him.

    His perspective is part logistics, part preference. Dale, who was born in France and pals around with luminaries such as Jacques Pepin, made significant upgrades to the essentials of the kitchen and aesthetic revisions to the entrance floor and the booths that border the room. However, he had no desire to change the overall blueprint and even commissioned hand-aged furniture by local craftsman to match the original wooden plank floor and maintain the overall ambiance of a historic dining area.

    But Dale is also in that precise position because he is both chef and restauranteur. From his location in the kitchen, he can see everything–from the first patron of the evening as he enters the door, to the expression on the face of a diner after her first taste of the meal. The room is his instrument, and he pays careful atten- tion to the pitch and tone, tuning flavors, lighting, and pairings to curate the quintessential evening meal. 

  • the mad hatters of santa fe

    the mad hatters of santa fe

    My hometown of Santa Fe would never be mistaken for an industrial mecca. An epicenter of art? You bet. A destination for all things turquoise? Unquestionably. A budding film production hub? Trying. But there is very little made on a mass scale here - Santa Fe, pretty much all of northern New Mexico, for that matter, still boasts a thriving artisan community - weavers, potters, farmers, jewelers making things the old way, by hand, either the way they learned as children from the hands of elders, or the way the mentors they came here to find, who still remember the traditional ways to make things, showed them. Click here to see the Custom Hatters of Santa Fe.

    That handhewn quality is one of the things that felt right, that made me feel right at home, from the very beginning when I first migrated here from my native San Francisco. And in my time here, I've had the honor of photographing the hands of many artists, producing many things the old way - as when I spent a few weeks documenting the journey of a pot from buckets initial dirt clay dug from sacred pueblo land to the final fired piece with potter Linda Trafoya Sanchez. I've photographed sculptors staining their pieces with pigments made from minerals found on their land, weavers working with yarn sheared and spun from the flock down the road, dyed from their garden vegetables. It's all pretty damn hands on, and after a few years of driving up and down and all around New Mexico, I thought I knew the the basic lay of the land, artisanal-wise, like the back of my hand, as it were. 

    Then I received an assignment to cover a trade I never knew existed: The Secret Arts of the Custom-Made Cowboy Hat. Little did I know that while classic cowboy outputs such as Austin, Texas no longer boast a single custom hat maker (according to my inside source in Santa Fe...), Santa Fe lays claim to no fewer than three custom hat makers. Not only that, but for those of us who fetishize tools of the trades - the old coffee can buckets filled with a painter's favorite brushes, the geometric array of a jewelers gadgets, or a chefs' arsenal of personal knives - the things the mad hatters of Santa Fe use to make those custom hats are intriguingly vintage, and could be considered objects d'art in their own right. There are the symmetrical rows of aged wooden blocks representing every size of head, the antique sewing machines used to adhere the lining to the hat, the metal type used to imprint the owner's name upon that lining, and the queen of them all, a spectacular victorian contraption called the conformateur, used to "memorize" the irregularities of one's head and convey those to the actual dome of the hat. 

    The tools, the methods, and the makers themselves were rich in character and history. This story was originally produced on assignment for Santa Fean magazine, but I could easily see extending it for yard to come. Who knows - maybe I'll even own my own cowboy hat one day.... 

  • Los Poblanos Inn

    Los Poblanos Inn

    The historic Los Poblanos Inn is a hidden verdant treasure among Albuquerque destinations. Originally home to the New Mexico "Creamland" dairy in the 1930's, the property has grown over the years to include the La Quinta Cultural Center, a lavender and organic farm, which supplies much of the produce for the haute cuisine of La Merienda restaurant, and the daily breakfast provided with accommodations at the Inn.

    Something transformational happens as you turn off the main country road at the sign for the Inn, and continue down a single lane driveway, framed with a canopy of trees, arriving at the historic architecture of the Inn. This isn't the hot, arid, concrete Albuquerque you left behind just a few miles ago - it's utterly magical, green, quiet and calming. No wonder it's such a popular destination for travellers, and host to weddings and events throughout the year. 

    Executive director Matt Rembe recently undertook a major project to extend the Inn's accomodations, adding new buildings in a rustic, farm style designed to echo the Dairy Farm origins. The attention to detail in this new addition is exquisite, from a custom font designed by font Foundry House Industries for the depth numbers in the salt water swimming pool to the re-use of antique dairy cow tags for "do not disturb" signs. 

    I had the pleasure of photographing the new addition to Los Poblanos Inn on assignment for Local Flavor magazine, and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to roam, explore, and visually capture this landmark. Just, wow.